MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon review



A new CPU means new motherboards to test, so here is the Z270 Carbon from MSI, an ATX motherboard with some LED lights for those who love bling. MSI has armoured up the whole motherboard, meaning steel strips on the PCI-Express slots and the DIMM slots and one M.2 shield to hide that green pcb away. So how about that new Kaby Lake?

Well I have some bad news for you, if you were expecting large gains. Kaby Lake offers a lot of the same, with some minor tweaks and stable overclocking. If you bought a CPU made between 2011 and now, you won’t be all too surprised.

The system ran cool, even in testing with this terrible Summer heat. While these numbers might not seem overly high, remember that this is testing with a GTX 970 4GB GPU.


Socket: 1151
CPU (Max Support): i7
Chipset: Intel® Z270 Chipset
DDR4 Memory: 3800(OC)/ 3600(OC)/ 3200(OC)/ 3000(OC)/ 2800(OC)/ 2600(OC)/ 2400/ 2133 MHz
Memory Channel: Dual
DIMM Slots: 4
Max Memory (GB): 64
PCI-Ex16: 3
PCI-E Gen: Gen3
PCI-Ex1: 3
M.2 Slot: 2
RAID: 0/1/5/10
TPM (header): 1
LAN: 10/100/1000
USB 3.1 ports (Front): 4(Gen1, Type A)
USB 3.1 ports (Rear): 1(Gen2, Type C), 1(Gen2, Type A), 4(Gen1, Type A)
USB 2.0 ports (Front): 4
USB 2.0 ports (Rear): 2
Audio ports (Rear): 5+Optical SPDIF
DVI-D: 1
DirectX: 12
Form Factor:ATX
CrossFire: Y[/toggle_simple]

Upgrading to a 7XXX series CPU might sound exciting, but the advances just aren’t there yet. This offers an acceptable on-board sound solution, USB 3.1, SATA 3 and some sexy onboard lighting, but it really doesn’t grip attention, and that isn’t MSI’s fault at all. Kaby Lake is another Intel quad-core with a few tweaks to a very old formula. Things I initially thought were out of place or odd, like the lighting options or the armour on the various components, eventually went away. The Carbon is a nice plain black with understated lighting and the components feel sturdy when slotted in, though I still feel like big GPUs need a bracket to take some of the strain off the PCI-E slot.

Without a FLIR camera it is difficult to run tests on MSI’s M.2 shield and see what change occurs, but the idea is tempting, if only to hide away an unsightly M.2 SSD.


  • Steel Armour is pretty | Black, understated design


  • Only 2 of 6 fan headers are PWM controllable


Value - 8
Performance - 8
Features - 8
If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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